COMMENT

Unwise protest vote could reintroduce the risk factor

By Alexis Papachelas

The results of the first round of Greece’s municipal and regional elections held on Sunday showed that none of the political parties nor the candidates have real resonance with the people. In fact, people are still in a quandary.

Meanwhile, the doomsayers who had forecast a complete reversal of the political landscape were proved wrong – at least for the time being.

Things, of course, could be different this coming Sunday when Greeks will return to the polling stations to cast their vote for the European Parliament elections.

The anger and desire to punish have not gone away, despite the fact that more and more people know that the country has hit rock bottom and the economy can only go up from there.

Furthermore, the strong showing of the ultranationalist candidates shows that Golden Dawn has established deep roots. These were reinforced by the anti-systemic tsunami triggered by the financial crisis, but also by the verbal hyperboles of the other anti-bailout parties.

This last Sunday, public skepticism toward the system, as it were, grew stronger and not without good reason. Both the opinion polls and the much-anticipated exit polls proved to be highly misleading – and Sunday was not the first time. It is hard to say with certainty whether their failure was a result of cost-cutting or of a deliberate attempt by the people to fool the system. But something did go very wrong.

The country stands at a crucial crossroads. We are waiting to see whether the political risk factor will once again become part of the equation – which will play a key role in the course of the economy which had just started to stabilize. The market becomes paralyzed at the mere whiff of political risk and foreign investors seek the panic button.

And one last thing: One can explain why someone who has lost their job or fortune in the crisis would cast an anti-systemic vote. However, it’s hard to see why they would want to see the systemic parties go down simply out of dislike for their leaders or a similar reason. In the runup to Sunday’s vote we cannot afford to forget our sense of responsibility.

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